Updated: April 21, 2020
There is increasing evidence that hypoxemia (low oxygen levels) may be an early indicator of coronavirus (in lieu of other symptoms). Read more in today’s Recommendations for Industry.
In our Downloadable Resources (free), we have updated languages for some materials:
Social Distancing Posters: Russian
Best Practices for Mask Usage: French, Chinese, and Portuguese; Updated: Spanish version
Preventive Controls & Preventive measures: French, Chinese, Portuguese; Updated: Spanish
Preventive Control Hierarchy Pyramid: Updated Portuguese for clarity
the Food Industry
Testing for Hypoxemia as Early Indicator of COVID-19
Preliminary, but compelling data is indicating that hypoxemia (low oxygen levels) is increasingly seen in COVID-19 patients and may be an early indicator of the virus, even when no other symptoms exist. Because oxygen-level testing, for which an inexpensive finger-tip pulse oximeter is used, is objective and noninvasive, TAG recommends the addition of an oxygen-level test be added to Wellness Screening.
According to Mayo Clinic: Hypoxemia (or hypoxia) is a below-normal level of oxygen in your blood; is a sign of a problem related to breathing or circulation; and may result in various symptoms, such as shortness of breath. Hypoxemia can be estimated by measuring the oxygen saturation of your blood using a pulse oximeter (a small device that clips to the finger). Normal pulse oximeter readings usually range from 95 to 100 percent. Values under 90% are considered low.
Pulse Oximeters are readily available from several online sources as well as some retailers. Follow package directions and add to wellness screening as follows:
Ask employee to wash or sanitize hands thoroughly.
Place oximeter on employee fingertip.
If reading shows O2 level at or below 90, employer should wait two minutes and retest individual.
If employee’s O2 levels are still below 90, employee should be sent home and should contact their health care provider.
Low oxygen levels can be normal for some people, so the employee can return to work if the health care provider validates that normalcy for that employee.
Disinfect the oximeter before placing on next employee.
The WHO lists some factors that can interfere with pulse oximeter readings including employee movement (such as shivering), bright light or sunlight shining directly on the probe, and extreme cold or low blood pressure of the employee. Some studies have also demonstrated that fingernail polish colors can impact readings.
Everyone should practice social distancing (more specifically, physical distancing), not only those who are ill or at higher-risk (e.g. older individuals, pre-existing conditions) but also among healthy individuals so we may "flatten the curve".
Please feel free to use this free poster at your establishment. Please email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a copy of this poster (English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Chinese - simplified, traditional are available).
As of April 21, 2020 (14:55 ET), there are over 2,531,000 cases (>174,000 deaths) worldwide.
Due to the increasing number of cases in the United States, TAG will move from reporting counts per country to focusing on the United States, please see here for the data. For further information regarding worldwide numbers, please refer to John Hopkin University’s aggregate map.
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